Thanksgiving 2015

I cheated and turned on Christmas music about a week before Thanksgiving. Now it’s the weekend after Thanksgiving and we already have a (fake) tree and Pandora is permanently set to its Christmas Radio station and Jeff and the girls are making gingerbread log cabins. Thanksgiving, what Thanksgiving?



Okay, we did celebrate Thanksgiving, of course. And in no small way. We cohosted with our across-the-hall-neighbor Lisé, as we did last year. Hors d’oeuvres and cocktails in my apartment followed by the main meal in hers.


Guests start to arrive to our apartment


Adele and Winston play in the gingerbread house (leftover from May’s Candy Land birthday party)

The most popular dish we made was the cranberry salsa. It always is. I’m so glad that my friends like it as much as I do. It’s Jeff’s mom’s recipe and she makes it for me whenever I come to visit, even though it’s most appropriate as a festive winter dish. My inclination is to keep the recipe secret, but I’m feeling generous.



1 12-oz bag of cranberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 cup green onions, finely minced

1/4 cup cilantro, finely minced

2 tablespoons ginger, grated or finely chopped

Juice of 1 small lime

2 jalapenos (mild) or thai chiles (medium to hot), seeded and minced

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 8-oz blocks of cream cheese

Wheat Thins


Toss first seven ingredients (through sugar) in a food processor and whiz it up until everything looks nicely mixed and the cranberries are minced but not soupy. Empty salsa into a bowl or Tupperware, cover, and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to meld together.

Before serving, allow salsa to come to room temperature. Lay cream cheese blocks on a serving plate and heap salsa generously on top. Serve crackers on the side.

Note: This recipe is extremely forgiving. This time around, we couldn’t find green onions, so we used chives. We also couldn’t find cilantro, so we left it out completely. If you have a lemon, but not a lime, use that. And the amounts are just approximations: if you have cilantro, just grab a fistful and chop it up. And we like ginger, so we add a bit more (same with spicy chiles).



I also made lemony kale chips, giardiniera marinated olives, Lebanese 7-spice cashews, sweet potato fries and sausage bites with two dipping sauces: dijon and sriracha. Oh, and a bag of microwave popcorn for May!


Kate enjoys a tipple

To drink, I made a giant pot of a modern Wassail. Traditionally, there would be ale in a Wassail (hence, the name), but I built upon the base of apple and orange juices and sweet spices with Calvados and rye whiskey. I kept the alcohol separate so the kids could just drink the mulled cider.

After a good amount of mingling, we moved across the hall to Lisé and Ian’s. There were 19 of us in total, so we used both of our dining tables, all of the chairs in our apartments, some chairs stolen from the lounge downstairs, and every plate, fork, and glass we both own!


Todd, Winston, Amber, Henry, Marcos, Sofia, Michelle, Adele, Jeff, and May


Naomi, Alta, Guy, Ian, Elan, Lise, JC, Kate, and Luke


Marcos, Jeff, and Todd


May May


The Smith men make funny faces

All the traditional Thanksgiving fixings were fixed: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, salad, cheesy grits, cornbread, cranberries two ways, and deviled eggs.


And there was pie upon pie upon pie! Lisé baked pumpkin pie, cranberry pie, and a chocolate bourbon pecan pie, and Michelle and Marcos brought pumpkin cheesecake and a traditional Brazilian doce de leite cake roll.





Lise’s mother JC is in town visiting


Michelle and Lise

I have no shortage of dessert photos, because I kinda like dessert. Kinda.


Amber, moi, and Michelle

Here’s a good final dessert photo:


Élan sneaks a bite from the gingerbread turkey he had made with his grandma.

Guests left and we cleaned up a little bit and then were completely ready for bed. I looked at my watch (my cell phone) and it was 8:30!



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